Mind your tongue or should I say what you write on Facebook and in your blog

Published on December 2nd, 2016

I would like to share with you my thoughts concerning the Eighth commandment. The commandment is this: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

I believe that this sin of giving false testimony in some form is most prevalent among Christians.  It is so easy to spread innuendo and conjecture as fact.  Much damage is done this way.

Let me put it bluntly; much which is written on Facebook and via blogs is simply sinful. Secondhand hearsay is never a good thing to repeat or speculate about.  It simply furthers gossip and gossip by its nature is never a good thing.

In the Large Catechism, Dr. Martin Luther had this to say about how one should obey the Eighth commandment:

“False witness, then, is everything which cannot be properly proved. Therefore, what is not manifest upon sufficient evidence no one shall make public or declare for truth; and, in short, whatever is secret should be allowed to remain secret, or, at any rate, should be secretly reproved, as we shall hear. Therefore, if you encounter an idle tongue which betrays and slanders some one, contradict such a one promptly to his face, that he may blush; thus many a one will hold his tongue who else would bring some poor man into bad repute, from which he would not easily extricate himself. For honor and a good name are easily taken away, but not easily restored.”[1]

And again Luther counsels:

“And it is especially an excellent and noble virtue for one always to explain advantageously and put the best construction upon all he may hear of his neighbor (if it be not notoriously evil), or at any rate to condone it over and against the poisonous tongues that are busy wherever they can pry out and discover something to blame in a neighbor, and that explain and pervert it in the worst way; as is done now especially with the precious Word of God and its preachers.”[2]

So what is our motivation for protecting a neighbor’s reputation by putting the best construction on everything? It is the knowledge that in Christ we have an advocate before the Heavenly Father who covers over our sins with His robes of righteousness.  Jesus has enabled us to have a good reputation before the Father in Heaven by having taken our sins upon Himself, paying for them with His life and death and enabling us to receive in exchange His righteousness.  We receive all of these wonderful things with the hand of faith. Even that hand of faith is a blessing from God in that the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel enables us to believe.  As converted Christians we are enabled to love others as we have been loved by God. The Holy Spirit who dwells within Christians enables Christians to love others by putting the best construction on what we hear and know about our neighbor and to say no to innuendo and gossip.

[1] Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, electronic ed. (Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 1996), 657-59.

[2] Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, electronic ed. (Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 1996), 663.